When Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a veteran of about 40 years of politics, thinks about the upcoming battle for the presidency, it reminds him of 1980, when incumbent President Jimmy Carter was defeated by Ronald Reagan.
"I liken Obama-Romney to that,'' DeWine told WVXU Thursday. "People then didn't much like Carter, but they didn't really know Ronald Reagan - they knew he had been governor of California, was in the movies. But they didn't know that much about him."
It took voters awhile, DeWine said, "but they came to the conclusion that they weren't happy with the incumbent; and the only question was whether or not they were comfortable with the other candidate."
They did become familiar with Reagan, DeWine said, and liked what they saw, and Reagan pulled ahead to stay in the last week of the campaign.
This year, DeWine said, "people might like Obama personally, but they are not happy with what has happened during his presidency."
What happened with Reagan in 1980 "is going to have to happen with Mitt Romney,'' said DeWine. "They are going to have to become more comfortable with him, get to know him."
Thursday's night's acceptance speech, DeWine said, is only the first step in that process.
"It's not just a matter of one speech,'' the former U.S. senator said. "It's a process and it will play itself out over the next couple of months."
At some point, usually late in the campaign, "voters do a visceral gut check on the candidates. They hone in on it. After all, the modern presidency is in your living room every day."
"Mitt Romney is going to have to create a comfort level with the American people,'' DeWine said. "And I think he will."